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Life change – Selling up to live on a Wide Beam
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Friday,17 May, 2013
5:30 am
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Hi there,

Let me introduce ourselves to you;

I’m Rob, I work as a teacher/outdoor education instuctor in a special school for “naughty boys” (I’m not allowed to say that, so please don’t quote me!) it’s officially classified as SEBD, basically boys who for whatever reason have had no boundaries put in place!  I was originally trained as a musician and worked professionally for several years.

I met my wife – Manda at music college in the late 70’s, so it’s 30 years marriage this year and time for a life style change with our new puppy Molly.  The boys have more or less left home, so there’s no excuse not to fulfill our wishes!

We have always loved walking/cycling by canals over the years and are not averse to popping into canal side pubs for the odd pint or two.

So, I now need to explain the need for a wide beam; Manda would be fine with a 6’10” but I’m not sure I could cope!  I worry that family and friends would not want to visit/stay due to the intimate nature of the vessel, also I have plans to earn part of my living on board so room is needed for that. We will also need space for the odd impromptu music session with friends old and new.

This evening we visited our second boat builder, Jeremy Greenwood, wow! his craftsmanship and ideas are superb, he has almost convinced me about a 6 footer! he also showed us a hybrid wide beam/dutch barge shell he’s about to start, now that’s got some room for a band! but unfortunately beyond our finances and it maybe a little too big for British waterways.  We came away very impressed by Tristar Boats.

Perhaps anyone reading this could help us with advice on choice of size of boat, please feel free to email me rob@cycle-life.co.uk – I’m new to “blogging” so not sure if you can post here?

We’re off to Crick in 10 days time, to try to finalise our choice of boat but maybe a weekend aboard a narrow boat with my son and his girlfriend would inform our decision?

It’s so refreshing to meet so many friendly/genuine people, can’t wait to move onto a boat!

Will keep posting as we progress

BTW, we visited A to Z boats last weekend and were equally impressed by Laurie’s boats, there’s going to be a lot of hard decisions heading our way.

Any advice and tips are welcome.

 

 

Friday,17 May, 2013
5:45 am
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Hi Rob. Congratulations on your double first; first forum post and first blog post!

Thanks for your first entry. It fascinating to find out more about people who are hoping/planning on moving to a life afloat. Just a couple of things for you to consider at this early stage of the game…

  1. You’ve mentioned your current work in your introduction. Am I correct in assuming that you will continue working once you are living on board? If you plan to carry on working at a specific geographic location, you’ll need to find a permanent mooring for your new floating home. There are two types of mooring; leisure and residential. Most moorings are leisure moorings which mean that you aren’t allowed to stay on them full time. If you buy your preferred wide beam boat, you need to consider where you’re going to moor your boat and what it’s going to cost you. If you choose a marina mooring – if you can find a residential marina mooring because not all marinas offer them – you need to be aware that most of the moorings are for narrow craft and that you may be charged a premium for your wider than normal boat.
  2. Do you intend to do any cruising in your boat? You can’t navigate all of the canal network in a widebeam. Some of the canals are “narrow” canals. This refers to the width of the locks rather than the width of the canal, and you can’t take a widebeam through a narrow lock. You also can’t navigate from the north of the network to the south. You’ll have to choose one end or the other and stick to it (unless you’re prepared to pay the cost of moving your boat by road transport)

There you go. Just a couple of points to consider before you spend all your money at Crick. It’s a wonderful show and you’ll be spoiled for choice.

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Friday,17 May, 2013
9:48 am
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Looking at the Tristar site, all the featured wide beams are 60 ft. Following on from Pauls post, you have to choose between North and South. 60 ft will be OK for the South, allowing you the Thames, Kennet & Avon, Grand Union and Lee & Stort, although bear in mind that Stort locks are only 13 ft wide. If you choose the North then 60 ft limits your travel. If you want to travel the Calder & Hebble -one of the nicest river/canal navigations in the country – then you want no longer than 57 ft.

You may also want to look at the licence cost. If you are going to look for a permanent mooring then in some areas – Lee, Stort, C & H, SYN, you will only need a River Only licence. When you want to travel, you then just get a short term licence for canal use.

 

Regards

Pete

Living retirement in the slow lane.

20 years hiring, 6 years of shared ownership and a Continuous Cruiser since 2007 but still learning!

Friday,17 May, 2013
6:58 pm
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Peter,

 

Thank you for all the information, aware of most of it. We are looking at Pillings lock Marina which has plenty of residential spaces and charges for the wide beam are not prohibitive, our only concern is the overhead power cables (huge great national grid type) which are not good for peoples health!  

Can anyone confirm that it’s possible to get to Foxton basin before the locks go narrow?

I am getting more and more interested in a 6′ 10″ boat as the lure of my native “Black Country” beckons!  We will be taking a real good look at them at Crick next weekend as if I can cope with the width (lack of it) it would be financially better for us and we would feel more a part of the narrowboat community.

Can anyone tell us if there are “cliques” amongst boaters, them and us  traditional v wide beam, travellers v residential etc?

Pearley – thanks, as above, we are aware of the north/south divideLaugh

Friday,17 May, 2013
10:03 pm
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Hi Rob,

 

We too took a look at Pillings and were put off a bit by the overhead stuff.  We finally took look at Mercia Marina and were really pleased with it, the people, the marina and location.  We are having our boat built by a boat builder connected to Nottingham Boat sales who have been great so far.  They have wide beams and Narrows for sale and they do seem to move them fast. We have met all the guys who will be building ours and they have all been very helpful and informative.

 

regards

 

Kim

There is nothing in the world as precious as the gift of life itself.

Saturday,18 May, 2013
12:25 pm
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Rob Williams said
Peter,

Can anyone confirm that it’s possible to get to Foxton basin before the locks go narrow?

Can anyone tell us if there are “cliques” amongst boaters, them and us  traditional v wide beam, travellers v residential etc?

Pearley – thanks, as above, we are aware of the north/south divideLaugh

You shouldn’t have any problems with a wide beam getting to Foxton and Market Harborough. And going the other way you have Nottingham, Newark, Lincoln & Boston and, if you want to venture further down the tidal river, York, Doncaster and Leeds.

There aren’t really any cliques in that way but there can sometimes be hostility between boaters who have permanent berths and continuous cruisers as us CCers are seen by some as getting away with something.

 

Regards

Pete

Living retirement in the slow lane.

20 years hiring, 6 years of shared ownership and a Continuous Cruiser since 2007 but still learning!

Saturday,18 May, 2013
2:20 pm
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pearley said

Rob Williams said
Peter,

Can anyone confirm that it’s possible to get to Foxton basin before the locks go narrow?

Can anyone tell us if there are “cliques” amongst boaters, them and us  traditional v wide beam, travellers v residential etc?

Pearley – thanks, as above, we are aware of the north/south divideLaugh

You shouldn’t have any problems with a wide beam getting to Foxton and Market Harborough. And going the other way you have Nottingham, Newark, Lincoln & Boston and, if you want to venture further down the tidal river, York, Doncaster and Leeds.

There aren’t really any cliques in that way but there can sometimes be hostility between boaters who have permanent berths and continuous cruisers as us CCers are seen by some as getting away with something.

 

Regards

Pete

Even though people will grumble about over staying at moorings etc. I have yet to see anyone refuse to help another boater who is in trouble or needs a hand. Like all parts of society there is the odd grumbler who got out of bed the wrong side and fell in the cut. Even they will give you a smile and a wave as you move through the canals.

 

It is a nice friendly place, inhabited by the salt of the earth.  All here for their own reasons and pleasures, which they frequently will willingly share.

Sunday,19 May, 2013
1:20 pm
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We to had to decide between Wide and Narrow Beam, we cruise continously during the summer months (6)Kiss and thats what helped us with our choice, the idea of being restricted to just parts of the system and most trips having to there and backs rather than being able to travel for months on end and it all being new and fresh, we went for a Narrow Boat.

 

We like to travel so it had to be a Narrow Boat, however if you are basically looking for a home on the water and dont intend to travel, then a Wide Beam would be our first choice. You mention viewing new Boats, as did we however there is a very large choice of second hand boats, which are considerably cheaper, boats are like Cars they lose money as soon as you leave the forecourt /Marina.

 

Everybody who decides to go boating loves the idea, however for some the actual experience is not so much fun, so we decided to buy a second hand boat which we could sell again and get our money back if the experience did not work out. It has very much worked for us and we are considering buying a new boat now.

 

Welcome to life afloat, have fun.

Monday,20 May, 2013
5:02 am
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I am struggling to do all my research from California. We are coming back to England after 26 years, after shedding too many belongings, escaping commuting for hours a day on the freeways of Los Angeles and an excessive work schedule, we are committed to changing our priorities. Trouble is that I’m not sure we could live in the confines of a 6’10” wide boat with 2 exuberant dogs and a cat who isn’t going to understand what happened to the weather… I’ve seen a lot of boats on the market that are 10′ wide that would be perfect but I’m afraid we won’t find a residential mooring within 30 minutes of Central London that I won’t have to sell my first born to afford the fees. We aren’t in the position yet to retire, so having to stay within the reaches of business is key. So many of the marinas have limited information online. I’m afraid we’re going to end up continuous cruising until we find a solution.

Clare

Monday,20 May, 2013
5:41 am
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Petzki said
I am struggling to do all my research from California. We are coming back to England after 26 years, after shedding too many belongings, escaping commuting for hours a day on the freeways of Los Angeles and an excessive work schedule, we are committed to changing our priorities. Trouble is that I’m not sure we could live in the confines of a 6’10” wide boat with 2 exuberant dogs and a cat who isn’t going to understand what happened to the weather… I’ve seen a lot of boats on the market that are 10′ wide that would be perfect but I’m afraid we won’t find a residential mooring within 30 minutes of Central London that I won’t have to sell my first born to afford the fees. We aren’t in the position yet to retire, so having to stay within the reaches of business is key. So many of the marinas have limited information online. I’m afraid we’re going to end up continuous cruising until we find a solution.

Clare

When you say that you are going to end up continuous cruising, what is your interpretation of continuous cruising? If you need to stay within commuting distance of London so that you can continue to work, how far are you willing to travel as part of your continuous cruising regime? The Trust are clamping down on “bridge hoppers”, the boat owners who travel backwards and forwards between two or more nearby spots so that they can stay close to work. A true continuous cruiser as far as the Trust is concerned travels on a progressive linear journey.

Living on a narrrowboat (all narrowboats are 6’10” wide) won’t be a problem for your pets. Sally and I live on board quite comfortbly with two very active spaniels. You have to make sure that you are comfortable with the limited space available to you. Have you been on a narrowboat before? Have you tried hiring a boat for a couple of weeks?

 

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Monday,20 May, 2013
7:53 am
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I’ve been reading the articles you’ve been posting regarding continuous cruising so I do understand the rules, I wouldn’t be attached to a particular train station, so we could venture further if need be, but I would prefer to find a permanent mooring. I have spent only holidays on narrowboats, both as a child and an adult. My husband however, has yet to do so. I think we will need to spend at least part of our trip in July/August onboard so that he can experience the lifestyle that has been fixed in my memories from my youth. After 27 years of marriage and living on 2 continents, I don’t want to chance any regret for either of us for this move.

Monday,20 May, 2013
7:56 am
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Hi Clare,

Please may I backup what Paul has written.

Continuous Cruising means that the boat has to be moved at least every 14 days to another district. That means another town, village etc.

A bit of history may help, the laws governing the use of the canal system has never allowed the permanent mooring of a boat anywhere on the system, other than at a properly authorised mooring. Generally moorings are what we call leisure moorings, these do not require planning permission, what I think you would call zoning in the US. Residential moorings require planning permission from the local councils and then become liable to all the taxes that a house can have levied on them. Thus a residential mooring in a popular area will be expensive and difficult to find.

There have been court cases over the rights of continuous cruisers where CCs argued that they had the right to moor continuously in one area so long as they moved a mile or so up the canal for a period and then moved back to the original moor sometime later, bridge hopping. The courts disagreed with the CCs and made the point that a CCs had to be on a continuous cruise around the system, moving at least to a new district at least every fourteen days or sooner if the local mooring regulations specified a shorter mooring period.
That means that if you want to moor your boat within commuting distance of London it is very difficult to do so unless you can find a residential mooring.

CRT are committed to enforcing the law and where the boat’s owner fails to obey the law CRT have the power to remove the boat and sell it to recover CRT’s costs and they do remove boats.

Sorry to put this so bluntly, but I would not want you to go down the road think that you could buy a boat and all your housing problems would be solved so long as every few days you move it to another mooring just round the corner. CRT seem to be determined to enforce the law particularly in areas like London and the surrounding areas that are used to commute from.

 

edited to correct spellings :)

Monday,20 May, 2013
8:53 am
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As I said, I’d prefer a permanent mooring, but if it exceeds 8,000 pounds a year, that becomes a problem. We are self-employed, but when projects require daily visits to London then we at least need to be near the next train station. I am a self-proclaimed goody two shoes, I prefer to follow the rules and avoid confrontations with the powers that be. Doing the opposite, interferes with the relaxed lifestyle that I crave.

Paul, there are too many rental sites to pick from. I’d like to find something on the Oxford or Grand Union canals in July/August for a week, any suggestions?

Monday,20 May, 2013
9:32 am
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Petzki said

Paul, there are too many rental sites to pick from. I’d like to find something on the Oxford or Grand Union canals in July/August for a week, any suggestions?

Hi Clare,

 

Personally, I would recommend Calcutt Boats. They are on the Grand Union with easy access to both the Oxford north and South. See http://www.calcuttboats.com/hire.html 

While your there you might be able to meet Paul.

Have a good trip

 

GM

 

 

 

Monday,20 May, 2013
10:49 am
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Petzki said

Paul, there are too many rental sites to pick from. I’d like to find something on the Oxford or Grand Union canals in July/August for a week, any suggestions?

Calcutt Boats is very well located. Our boats aren’t the newest in the world, but they are competitively priced and, of course, the service is excellent. From here you can travel south down the south Oxford to Oxford, at a push you can do the Warwick ring which incorporates Birmingham, you can head to Braunston then down the GU towards Milton Keynes or north from Braunston to the Ashby canal.

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Monday,20 May, 2013
5:12 pm
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Paul Smith said

When you say that you are going to end up continuous cruising, what is your interpretation of continuous cruising? If you need to stay within commuting distance of London so that you can continue to work, how far are you willing to travel as part of your continuous cruising regime? The Trust are clamping down on “bridge hoppers”, the boat owners who travel backwards and forwards between two or more nearby spots so that they can stay close to work. A true continuous cruiser as far as the Trust is concerned travels on a progressive linear journey. Living on a narrrowboat (all narrowboats are 6’10” wide) won’t be a problem for your pets. Sally and I live on board quite comfortbly with two very active spaniels. You have to make sure that you are comfortable with the limited space available to you. Have you been on a narrowboat before? Have you tried hiring a boat for a couple of weeks?  

Paul

There are, however, areas of the country where you could reasonably legitimately ‘Continuously Cruise’. Birmingham, for example. You could cruise around the Trent & Mersey, Staffs & Worcs and BCN, throw in an odd trip to Worcester and Lapworth anbd you are never more than an hours drive from Birmingham city centre and, if you stayed the maximum 14 days in each mooring, it would take you about a year to cover it., It might not be in the spirit of it but would be legal. 

CRT are happy to sell CC licences to wide beams on the Gloucester & Sharpness who can only travel from Stourport to Sharpness and back.

I have met CCers who just travel in a circle around the Rochdale and L & L because they don’t want to be too far from aged parents.

It only gets to be a problem in London and around Bath and CRT are working on a Roving Mooring Permit for these boaters. Not that it will help Petski.

 

Regards

Pete

Living retirement in the slow lane.

20 years hiring, 6 years of shared ownership and a Continuous Cruiser since 2007 but still learning!

Monday,20 May, 2013
7:15 pm
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I take your point Pete, and it’s a point well made. I think there’s a little more latitude with the CC rule interpretation away from London, parts of the K & A and the GU south of Milton Keynes where the overcrowding problems are. London and the south remains a problem though. The roving mooring permits are only going to apply in the overcrowding hotspots, and will only apply to currently known none compliant continuous cruisers.

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Monday,20 May, 2013
8:32 pm
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Down around MK, CRT seem quite happy for people to use CRT long term linear mooring as residential. I know several people in the MK area who are residential on CRT long term moorings, they have been there for two plus years with no problems. I think the key as far as CRT are concerned, find a long term mooring, pay the rent as CRT are happy. The advice I have given to CC friends is get a long term mooring. The complaint I keep hearing is they are not where they want to moor. Those who have got themselves long term mooring have got rid of a major stress. Yep there were problems, but most seemed to get sorted.

Don’t know about London, but Fenny Stratford long term moorings are only a few minutes walk from the railway station, and about 15 minutes from a large Tescos.

Ah well time for a drink and think about a bit of painting before bed.

Tuesday,21 May, 2013
6:17 am
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The shame about so many of the rental boats is that they are fitted out for maximum occupancy, without a living room. Sitting around the dinette for the evening does not evoke the same feeling as sitting by the potbelly stove reading a book with a glass of wine in hand. Yes Paul, I do read you newsletters ;-) I’m trying to sample a home not a bunk house…

Tuesday,21 May, 2013
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I wouldn’t say “so many” of rental boats are fitted out for maximum occupancy, I would say that virtually all of them are. I could tell you some horror stories about people who have bought ex hire boats to live on and then spent a huge amount of money and time reconfiguring them as a liveaboard home.

I don’t honestly know what the solution is for you. You could buy a share in a narrowboat. Shared narrowboat are configured for minimum people/maximum comfort or, just thinking on the fly here, what about joining one of the home exchange programmes? I don’t know whether there are any narrowboat owners who participate, but it’s worth looking at.

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